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They use stem cells to reverse the learning and memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The authors of a new study, published in the journal Journal of Neuroscience, used stem cells to generate brain inhibitory regulatory cell precursors. These precursor cells were able to become mature inhibitory neurons when transplanted into the brain of mouse models with Alzheimer's. The transplants helped replace cells lost due to Alzheimer's disease, regulate brain activity, and improve the animals' learning and memory abilities.
Although the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not clear, previous studies have shown that carriers of a gene called apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4) are at increased risk of developing the disease. This gene is related to a decrease in inhibitory regulatory cells in the hippocampus.
The hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for memory and learning, is particularly affected by the loss of inhibitory neurons, which contribute to the learning and memory deficits characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.
The results of this new study showed a functional integration of the transplanted cells in the hippocampal circuits and a complete rescue of the learning and memory deficits associated with Alzheimer's.
However, it is important to clarify that the use of this type of stem cell therapy in humans will still take some time. However, the data from this study provide hope for the possibility of improving memory and learning in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Tong LM, Djukic B, Arnold C, Gillespie AK, Yoon SY, Wang MM, et al. Journal of Neuroscience (2014). More information.
Related topics: Restore memory and learning problems caused by Alzheimer's.